“This is a course that brings students closer to the important issues facing us as a Jewish community. It is exciting to see my students think critically and develop opinions and perspectives that they will carry on to high school and beyond.”
Grade 6 students focus on the multicultural nature of Israeli demographics and how this represents a microcosm of Jews around the world. Students research the ways different cultural groups in Israel interact with, and integrate into, the wider Israeli society. Students use these dynamics to understand the relationships of Jewish communities to their home countries. This gives students a powerful new lens to understand their own family and community histories.
Central to the Grade 7 curriculum is the “Jewish Court of All Time.” This program connects Bialik digitally to Jewish day schools throughout North America. Each student adopts a character from Jewish history, choosing from a range of people such as Albert Einstein, Maimonides, Golda Meir or Rashi. With their peers in other cities, they debate a “court case” relevant to the world today from the perspective of their chosen character. The exercise teaches them about these influential Jews and their different historical and ideological perspectives, and structured critical thinking about important, contemporary Jewish issues.
Grade 8 students learn about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Students divide into groups, each representing a country, including all major world powers. Students work with assigned mentors at the University of Michigan who help them decide the best course of action for their country. Working together as a full group, they must decide how best to move forward in the conflict. The program demonstrates to students the complexity of the conflict and how many different countries have a stake in the future of the Middle East.
Bialik uses a data-driven approach to measure effectiveness in teaching Jewish identity and a love of Israel. Bialik consulted with experts in Jewish education and developed a proprietary student research study – the Ahavat Yisrael Survey. Each year, students complete this survey to gauge the nature of their connection to Jewish life, including Israel, religious observance, spirituality and Hebrew. Bialik developed the Massoret program, in part, as a response to early study results that revealed Senior Division students were seeking a more modern way to learn about Jewish issues and peoplehood.